Energetic Pranyama

I’m sitting on the train and lacking all energy. Why is it always the night before a big day that you can’t sleep? I just can’t seem to slow my mind down and shut off while in bed when I know that I have 8 million things to do and places to go in the morning. So what should I do now that it is already morning and I am terribly tired?

Well chocolate is helping me gain back some energy levels but that may not be the best solution (although the most delicious!). So in between nibbles of chocolate I’m practicing a combination of two very energizing Pranyama breathing exercises. Ujjayi and Surya Bhedana.

Ujjayi is also known as breath of fire, ocean breath or Darth Vader breath because it sounds like all of those things! By constricting the back of our throats and directing the breath there while inhaling and exhaling through the nose, we can warm up our breath before it even enters the body, so that it enters the lungs already full of energy. We use a full yogic breath while practicing ujjayi and most other pranyama breathing exercises (see previous post for full yogic breath). This warm, hissing breath is used before energetic and fast paced yoga classes. The actual sound of the breath allows us to stay focused on our breathing, helping our minds not to wander. By simply using this technique as I sit here I can feel an immediate awakening and warming effect. Pretty incredible I thought.

Surya Bhedana is also very powerful as it awakens our Yang side. Everyone’s heard of Yin and Yang but do we know what it means? Well Yin and Yang are the 2 sides of everything that have polar opposite energy. Let’s make a chart…

Yin                           Yang

Left                          Right

Inner                       Outer

Feminine               Masculine

Moon                       Sun

Passive                    Aggressive

So you see the difference. By practicing right nostril breathing we awaken the more active side of all of us, the Yang. We simply take out right hand in Mrigi mudra (placing our index and middle fingers at the base of our thumb) closing our left nostril with our ring finger and we inhale through the right nostril. After a full yogic inhale we close our right nostril with our thumb and exhale through the left. Repeat by inhaling again through the right nostril and continue on this way for 5 to 10 full rounds. It is the inhale through the right nostril that activates the Yang and starts to give our bodies this active energy.

Give these two breathing methods a try the next time you’re feeling low on energy and let me know what subtle energy differences you feel!

My day is looking up and I hope yours is too,

Namaste, Katy.

Conscious Breath: Full Yogic Breathing

Have you ever forgotten how to breathe? Have you ever found yourself suddenly gasping for air or feeling light-headed? I know I have.

As a child (especially while playing) I found myself randomly panting and gulping down air as fast as possible. I think this occurred because I would get excited about something, hold my breath and then suddenly Ahhhhh need air!

Breathing comes to us naturally but if you can believe it, most of us breathe incorrectly. In this day and age most people are running around from one task to the next. We can barely find time to sit down and eat a proper meal never mind find time to slow down and take some deep breaths, which is not so surprisingly, very important to our health.

Longer breaths = Longer life! It’s a simple concept that we can easily see in nature but somehow still overlook. Take the Tortoise for example. They move very slowly and this movement coincides with their long, slow breaths. A tortoise is said to live anywhere from 175-225 years. Incredible! A Hummingbird on the other hand has a total lifespan of around only 5 years. Just think about how fast they move, how much energy they use, and how hard that would be on their little bodies.

The exact same principle applies to humans as well! Those who run and rush through life often are shallow breathers, meaning they breath using only the upper lungs. Unfortunately these are the ones who are more often becoming sick with any number of diseases at an early age. Those people who can find just a few minutes everyday to slow down and breath properly tend to live long, health, disease free lives. When I say “breath properly” I mean they breath with their abdomen and entire lung capacity.

Try it now. First a shallow breath using only the upper part of your lungs and slight rise of the collarbones…not so relaxing right. The inhales and exhales are equally as short because there is just no space for a long smooth breath. Breathing this way tends to make us feel anxious, often sending us into Fight or Flight mode.

Now try a deep breath beginning by expanding the stomach, moving up through the lower lungs to reach the upper lungs and collar bones. Now exhale by lowering the collar bones as the air leaves your lungs and push all of the air out by contracting your stomach muscles.

How did that feel? Much more satisfying right! This is known as A Full Yogic Breath. This simple deep breathing practice has so many positive side effects including calming our nervous systems and steading our minds. By focusing on our breath in such a way we are able to feel a connection between mind, body and spirit. Seriously just close your eyes for 5 minute everyday and breath deeply. I bet you’ll notice an immediate sensation of calm and best of all when we practice this for just a few minutes everyday it will start to become a part of your everyday routine without even noticing!

Hope this read and 5 minute a day breathing practice has helped bring a little bit of calm into your busy life.

Namaste, Katy.